Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It [was] LEGAL to download The Great Gatsby... (revised January 1, 2021!) most of the world! the US, too, after January 1, 2021. This post, originally written in May 2013, needed some updating.

If you are were in the US, then tough luck, the rights belong belonged to the CBS Corporation, and you'll have would have had to pay Amazon $7.80 $4.99 to get it legally on your Kindle.

If you are sober enough to know which country's laws you're you were subject to (not that sobriety is a guarantee of jurisdiction-awareness) then you probably still don't know whether it's was legal to download The Great Gatsby from Project Gutenberg Australia. It's too bad that SOPA didn't pass because then all the US-illegal links to The Great Gatsby would be censored by law, and you would automatically have infringing links removed or not as the case may require.

So this is a little auto-link-legalizer page for you. Just click on the appropriate link:

Update (5/9/2013): Good discussion on Hacker News surfaced the answer via ernesth to my lazyweb query. The Great Gatsby is in the public domain in all countries but 7: the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Samoa, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, and Ivory Coast. All countries except the USA apply a law that states that books enter the public domain a given number of years after the death of the author. In Europe, it is 70 years, in Canada 50, in Mexico 100. See List of countries copyright length. It's not known if copyright exists in other parts of the galaxy. 

Update (1/1/2021): Happy Public Domain Day!


  1. Amazing interactive blog :)

  2. The Public Domain Calculator may be of use to readers from other countries.

  3. "javascript:ohshit()" made my day.

  4. "It's not known if copyright exists in other parts of the galaxy."

    Yes, it is known, and copyright exists in the whole universe. The first man on Mars who will sing a copyrighted song must pay a license fee.

    1. Jörg, the Economist article is entertaining, but I think it's referring to the case where the man singing engages in a performance to his crewmates on a ship "flying the flag" of a country with copyright. Would love to see the cited articl, though.